The Karnataka government has expressed optimism about the safe release of Kannada screen idol Rajkumar, who is being held hostage by sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi said that a four-member team of negotiators, including R R Gopal, editor of Tamil bi-weekly Nakkheeran, was negotiating with Veerappan for the safe release of Rajkumar. "I have received a message from Nedumaran that the hostages will be released soon," Karunanidhi said (see 'King without a jungle', Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 7).
Meanwhile, Veerappan released two relatives of Rajkumar, Govindaraju and Nagesh on October 15, 2000. One of the hostages, Nagappa Maradagi had escaped from Veerappan's clutches on September 28, 2000. Rajkumar has appealed to his family members to get him released as soon as possible. He said Veerapan's behaviour towards him had changed drastically after Maradagi's escape. The Union government has expressed its willingness to help the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu government to solve the crisis as soon as possible.
Just when the two state governments were about to fulfill one the main demands of Veerappan by releasing 51 associates of his, the Supreme Court stayed their release order on the basis of a special leave petition filed by Abdul Kareem, a retired Karnataka police officer. Kareem's only son, a police officer, was killed by Veerappan in a 1993 forest ambush. The Supreme Court stated that there was no guarantee that after the release of Veerappan's associates, Rajkumar would be set free, as Veerappan's other demands were not being fulfilled. The apex court has directed both the state governments to evolve an alternative plan for securing the safe release of Rajkumar as soon as possible.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.